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CAT 2016: Why a high CAT Score may not ensure call from IIM’s?

Last Updated - September 28, 2016

We all know that getting a call from the IIM’s is no cakewalk and only the toughest survive the IIM Selection Process. The ones who score a CAT Percentile of 99 may not be selected either. So, your top CAT scores may not be very fruitful as far as the Indian Institute of Management (IIM’s) are concerned. Read on to know why.

All the IIM’s select the deserving candidates very diligently, atleast being extra-careful about the CAT Scores they secure. Their selection procedure requires you to comply with every key parameter they decide. They have been very strict as far these criteria are concerned. We are assuming that the same trend shall continue after the CAT Results 2016 are declared in mid-January 2017. So, all of you who thought a good CAT Score can assure you a seat in the IIM’s, think again!


According to the recent news’, a high percentage of CAT percentilers between 97 and 99+ were deprived of an admission call from the IIM’s. This stood true for all their programmes. Despite high CAT Scores, none of the 20 IIM’s shortlisted these qualifying students. Candidates feel the pinch when their such high scores stand nowhere in front of IIM’s selection procedure. It is like a sad reality for all the deserving candidates!

IIM’s Selection Parameters

Who doesn’t expect a call from the IIM’s after securing the top CAT marks! It is their sheer complex shortlisting criteria and parameters that deprives the candidates with an admission call. Candidates must understand that a high score may not be the only essential to seek admission. Along with your total score, you must qualify in each sectional scores too, as prescribed by the IIM’s. If you are lucky enough to clear these sectional scores, nothing like it! Else, your cumulative score goes in vain.

Read about Change in IIM Ahmedabad Selection Criteria

As we apprised you about the importance of sectional scores, they must not be taken for granted. If you score a 100 percentile in Quant section, 95 in Verbal Ability section and 75 in VARC, it is likely that your overall percentile will be excellent. But unfortunately, you will not qualify for the IIM’s since, you did not attain the minimum qualifying percentile of 80 in VARC section. The sectional dip has become a thorn in flash and your high percentile is no good. This trend has not only created a gap among the sectional percentilers but has also reduced their overall percentile which could have soared up, if they had scored well in the third section also.

Candidates who appeared in previous CAT exams, show their disappointment with the CAT Results. They are also dispirited thinking about how good they performed in their CAT Mock Tests and the actual CAT Results exam said a different story.

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Sectional Cutoff is a prime factor

A high percentile above 98 or 98 is obviously a basic selection requirement to be shortlisted. We often forget how important the sectional percentile is. It is as important a qualifying parameter as the cumulative marks.

For many of you who don’t know how the IIM’s shortlist the candidates, here it is. IIMs after applying their equated normalization system, prefer a candidate with fairly high balanced percentile of 90+ and 94+ in each section with overall percentile of 95-97 to a candidate with overall high percentile of 98-99 having greater deviation in sectional percentile. 

Read about Expect more weightage to VARC Section in CAT 2016

Generally, if you score high percentiles in the two sections- Quant and Verbal, but low percentile in DIRL, then the chances of your selection in any of the 20 IIM’s are bleak. You might not even be considered for admission.


All the aspirants may also note that a very high percentile deviation can reduce your chances too. Despite a decent overall percentile, if you slip in your sectional percentiles, you will not get a call from the IIM’s. Hence, it is advisable for you to strike a balance between the overall and sectional percentile in yourCAT Score.

We recommend you to score decent sectional percentiles in CAT 2016 to be able to stand eligible for getting shortlisted by IIM’s. The minimum qualifying sectional percentiles have also been reduced by a lot of IIM’s such as IIM-Ahmedabad needs only 70 sectional and 80 overall percentile; IIM Calcuttarequires 80 sectional and 90 overall percentile as the qualifying scores in CAT 2016 for 1st stage shortlisting. We advise you to prepare in such a way that you do not lose marks in any section. Once you score well in different section, your overall scores will improve.

Read about CAT Preparation Tips

What about your Academic Score?

Candidates have a higher chance of being selected by an IIM if they obtained exceptional marks in the Class X, XII and graduation. Any score above 90% is up for consideration.

On the academic diversity front, IIMs will prefer candidates with background from Humanities, Arts, Commerce etc. for PGP 2017-19 batch. Accordingly, higher weightage for the candidates coming from non-engineering back ground will be awarded to the students of Arts, Commerce, Economics and other non-technical courses.


Work Ex: An advantage

Scores is obviously a major deciding factor for admission, your work experience adds as a bonus too. Work ex. for 2-3 years is a considerable time and IIM’s award a decent weightage for them. If your work ex is less than 6 months, it will not be seen sufficient. Also, your work experience should be in supervisory cadre. Work experience with an NGO; your participation in spread of education and other contribution to social cause reflect your leadership skills. A quality internship may also be included to express your work experience. Maximum weightage in the range of 5 to 10 percent will be awarded for the work experience which includes the quality of work also.

Other Key Details

IIM’s have reduced the weightage for CAT 2016 Scores at the time of its shortlisting and final admission round. Your performance in your academic profile, verbal communication, gender diversity etc. will be given more weightage. IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow among other IIMs have taken lead and have reduced the weightage to be awarded for CAT 2016 scores by about 10 points. A dip of 10% in awarding the weightage to CAT 2016 scores can be rated as the major change in the admission policy of the top IIMs in the country.

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We hope now you know that just a high CAT Score may not be an invitation for the IIM’s. You need to score the minimum qualifying marks in each section too, to be able to become eligible. We hope all the deserving students secure a seat in their preferred college. Good luck!



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